Back on Wednesday, we trotted out the back half of the Ten Best Forwards in Flames History list. It contained the 10th through 6th-best forwards. Today, we unveil the back half.
Absent from the list? Lanny McDonald. Bless him, he had the best facial hair in sports history – Honus Wagner was close – but the drop-off during his time in Calgary was pretty stark, and if you’re judging a person by his body of work you basically have to average him out. And honestly, he just barely missed the cut – he would’ve been the 11th-best had we done a longer list.
If you didn’t check out the first-half of the list, check it out here. The top five are after the jump.
#5: HAKAN LOOB
Flame from 1983-84 to 1988-89
The second-best Swede in Flames history, Loob was an offensive dynamo when he wore the Flaming C. A former 50-goal scorer, he scored 142 of his 193 goals at even-strength – which is pretty slick. He’s at this spot because he has great numbers, but just lacked the consistency of the guys ahead of him.
#4: KENT NILSSON
Flame from 1979-80 to 1984-85
The best Swede in Flames history, the “Magic Man” boasted the greatest offensive season in franchise history (131 points in 1980-81). While Tom Lysiak might’ve been the Flames franchise’s first great player, Nilsson really took it to another level. He was as dangerous at even-strength as he was on the power-play, and he was an excellent distributor of the puck.
#3: JOE NIEUWENDYK
Flame from 1986-87 to 1994-95
Acquired with a second round pick that the Flames got for trading away Kent Nilsson, Nieuwendyk won the Calder Trophy as a rookie and scored 40+ goals in each of his first four seasons in the NHL. He was an excellent 200-foot player who used his size well and worked the angles very well on the ice. He had elite-level offensive production, but when you drill down into his numbers he was a bit too reliant on the power-play for his numbers. That’s not an indictment – it’s probably a reason behind his longevity – but it puts him at #3.
#2: THEOREN FLEURY
Flame from 1988-89 to 1998-99
A late-round pick in the 1987 Draft, Fleury made the jump to the NHL during the Stanley Cup season and got a ring on a stacked team. Then, as the All-Stars and future Hall of Famers disappeared around him, he managed to keep pumping up his offensive numbers. He might not have been as good as some of the players behind him on this list, but he played with a fearlessness that would really help in a single-game playoff. And in his prime, in the clutch, Fleury was equally adept at scoring goals and setting up his teammates.
#1: JAROME IGINLA
Flame from 1995-96 to 2012-13
Iginla holds the majority of the Flames offensive records – both for excellence and longevity. He scored 30 goals or more in 11 straight seasons, led the NHL in goal-scoring twice, and generally was just an offensive wizard. Like Fleury, he had a degree of fearlessness on the ice, but he was also much bigger and had a greater ability to withstand punishment to generate offense. Able to generate points at even-strength or on the power-play, and equally likely to snipe one himself or pass to an open man, Iginla was Calgary’s most potent offensive weapon when he was in town.
Heck, he’s still pretty good.